Category: News

2020 Yellowstone Conference: New Dimensions of Care

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Join Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch for our fourth annual Montana youth centered conference with professional panel discussions on new dimensions of care.

Date: Thursday September 17th, 2020

Time: 9am-5pm

Place: The Franklin Robbie Chapel, located on YBGR’s main campus at 1732 South 72nd Street West, Billings, MT 59106

Cost of attendance: $25.00, includes lunch & refreshments*

CEUs and OPI credits are available upon request

*Refunds will only be issued if YBGR needs to cancel conference (minus booking fee)


Conference Agenda

9:00am-9:30am Registration

9:30am-9:45am Welcome

9:45am-11:00am Collaborating For Outcomes: Family 1st Act Panel

11:00am-11:15am Break

11:15am-12:30pm The Role of Adolescent Faith and Spirituality Panel

12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch

1:30pm-2:45pm Looking Beyond Behavior Panel

2:45pm-3:00pm Break

3:00pm-4:15pm Youth Voice: Evolution of Care Panel

4:15pm-5:00pm Keynote Speaker (TBA)

Collaborating for Outcomes: Family 1st Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has been touted as an opportunity to “change foster care as we know it”. The Act has several provisions to enhance support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families.

To achieve the promise of Family First, Montana will need to adapt. State agencies will need to adjust and change systems. Private providers, particularly group home providers, will need to alter services and business models to better meet the needs of children and caregivers. Judges, attorneys and other legal partners will be relied upon to make informed decisions about what children and youth need to succeed. Members of the community need to be informed of best practices and engaged in active solutions. In short, successful implementation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Moderated by Michael Chavers, YBGR CEO

Panelists to be announced

The Role of Adolescent Faith and Spirituality

Spirituality helps people cope with everyday stresses by giving them hope and meaning in life through the values they live out on a daily basis. Looking at the core issues of independence, intimacy and identity is critical in the role of healthy spiritual development. Through questioning what beliefs adolescents will personally own, will help us to understand what values emerge through the formation of healthy spirituality.

Moderated by John Dailey, YBGR Spiritual Director

Panelists to be announced

Looking Beyond Behavior

All behavior is a form of communication. Looking beyond behavior for meaning is an important tool not just for mental-health providers but for communities. Unmet needs continue to echo in problematic behaviors and once you can determine the meaning you can create positive change through support. These concepts are universal in relationships and can be deployed by anyone. In this panel, we will explore the importance of developing communities attuned to the meaning of behavior so that we can all be part of positive change.

Moderated by Tyson Schumacher, YBGR CIO

Panelists to be announced

Youth Voice: Evolution of Care

A panel of former youth who were recipients of mental health services in and out of the state of Montana. We will explore their firsthand experiences in mental health to gather valuable information on past and existing systems of care that affect the lives of children.

Moderated by Rishay Watson, YBGR Executive Director of Business Development and Marketing

Panelists to be announced

Empowered to Connect Free Online Conference





Montana’s Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch will be offering free access to Karyn Purvis’ world renowned, Empowered to Connect simulcast.

Empowered to Connect (ETC) is an attachment rich community focused program that exists to support, resource, and educate caregivers. ETC’s resources and trainings are especially helpful for caregivers of children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and maltreatment. ETC relies heavily on the model of Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the TCU Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch staff will be on-hand to facilitate discussions throughout the presentations in order to dig deep into how these parenting techniques can be implemented in our daily lives.  


  Mondays Tuesdays  
Class 1 27-Apr-20 28-Apr-20  
Class 2 4-May-20 5-May-20  
Class 3 11-May-20 12-May-20  
Class 4 18-May-20 19-May-20  
*All viewings begin at 3pm and end by 7:30pm

Click HERE to register for this free event 

COVID-19 Important Announcements

In response to the ever-changing dynamics related to the COVID-19 virus, YBGR has taken the following steps in order to minimize the risk of transmission and to keep those we serve, as well as our staff, safe and healthy. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time, and we are grateful for your support of our mission: Caring People Preparing Youth for Life.

As of May 11th, 2020:

  • Yellowstone Academy Day School services are closed until June 30th, 2020.
  • Visitation with youth residing at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch will be limited to video or phone contacts. Please contact YBGR to arrange for free videoconferencing to be setup to visit with your youth.
  • All non-emergency off-campus passes and appointments are cancelled until further notice. Medical passes will be approved on a case-by-case basis by our medical staff. Youth residing on campus have access to 24/7 nursing and medical care.
  • All admissions will be screened for exposure to the COVID-19 virus, and admission may be delayed until such time that we are assured that others are not at risk.
  • Wherever feasible, services will be provided by telehealth or in environments that reflect social distancing approaches to preventing infection.
  • All staff have received updated information regarding how to prevent transmission and spread of COVID-19, and additional protocols, including staffing, cleaning and sanitation have been implemented.
  • All staff have been provided masks and are required to wear them at all times working with children and where social-distancing guidelines cannot be maintained. 

We will continue to work tirelessly to protect your child, as well as our dedicated staff.

Thank you for your understanding and partnership during this difficult time. Please refer to this website to receive future updates.

Mike Chavers – CEO

3-Day EMDR Intensive Training: Neuroscience, Diagnosis and State of the Art Practices to Treat Complex Trauma 1/8/2020-1/10/2020






Join trauma specialist, author and national trainer, Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP, for this intensive 3-day EMDR training that will provide you the knowledge and skills needed to use EMDR safely and effectively. Through lecture, live and videotaped EMDR demonstrations, and supervised experiential exercises, this training will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of trauma theory, principles, diagnosis and EMDR treatment.

The stage model remains today’s state-of-the-art treatment approach for all but single-incident trauma. During this training, you will learn the goals of each stage, along with the therapeutic tools to reach those goals.

You must be present for all 3 days of EMDR training to receive the hours of training certificate. CEUs will be emailed by PESI after paperwork has been processed.

Cost is $700.00 per ticket 

Purchase Tickets


Wednesday January 8th, 2020

  • Registration 7:30am-8:00am
  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Thursday January 9th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Friday January 10th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Program Outline:

Neuroscience of Trauma, Effective Assessment and DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria

Neuroscience’s Current Trauma Paradigm

Biological nature of trauma

  • Triune Brain, The Autonomic Nervous System and the Stress Response
  • The Polyvagal Theory
  • Traumatic Stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental

Specific trauma symptoms

Primary treatment issues in trauma therapy

Trauma’s Somatic and Sensorimotor Sequelae

  • Hyperarousal
  • Hypoarousal
  • Dissociation, body memories and “flashbacks” Affect dysregulation

Trauma and Attachment

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

Attachment Essentials

  • Baby/momma trauma
  • Insecure Attachment Styles Assessment and Primary Treatment Issues of:
  • Avoidant
  • Preoccupied
  • Disorganized type

Assessment and Diagnosis of Trauma Disorders

Current Trauma Diagnoses:

  • Acute Trauma Disorder
  • PTSD and subtypes
  • Dissociative
  • Preschool
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Proposed Trauma Diagnoses

  • Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)
  • Complex PTSD

Trauma Treatment: Effective Tools, Treatment Modalities, and an Introduction EMDR

The Stage Model of Treatment

  • Assessment, Rapport, Psychoeducation
  • Developing the “Skills to Stay Stable”
  • Trauma Tools for Affect Regulation
  • Recognizing and regulating affect
  • Dissociative episodes and “flashbacks”
  • Grounding clients in their bodies and back in the present in the here and now
  • Mindfulness/bodyfulness (including somatic exercises)
  • Multisensory Guided Imagery
  • EFT (meridian tapping)
  • Reduction of physiological arousal
  • Recognizing and up & down regulating arousal levels
  • Containment and self-soothing
  • Stage One: Stabilization and Safety

Stage Two: Working Through Traumatic Memories

  • Brief overview of the theory and applicability of three trauma processing modalities:
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP)
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)
  • EMDR

Practice EMDR for both Resourcing and Trauma Processing

Live EMDR demonstration followed by experiential sessions

Under Supervision, Learn and Safely Practice the Skills of EMDR for Both Phase One and Two

Phase One Work: Imaginal Resourcing

  • Containment Imagery
  • Comfortable Place Imagery
  • Protection Imagery and/or Nurture Imagery

Phase Two Work: Reprocessing Traumatic Memories

Limitations of Research and Potential Risk

  • Contraindications and precautions for reprocessing trauma
  • Differences in theory and in the associated neurophysiological models are a matter of ongoing discussion


1. Evaluate the biological nature of trauma and how trauma is stored in the body and limbic system, creating physical and psychological symptoms to better understand your clients.

2. Differentiate between sympathetic (activated) freeze response and the parasympathetic (deactivated) dorsal vagal immobilization response your clients experience.

3. Distinguish between the following types of traumatic stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental and articulate treatment considerations for each.

4. Ascertain the clinical implications of traumatic stress symptomology, including hyperarousal, affect dysregulation, dissociation, body memories, and flashbacks.

5. Employ effective somatic techniques to reduce/eliminate client’s body memories, “flashbacks” and dissociation.

6. Summarize the landmark study: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and understand the ten adverse childhood experiences studied as they related to clinical diagnosis and assessment.

7. Evaluate the clinical presentation of the following attachment styles as it relates to your clinical assessment: secure vs insecure; insecure; organized vs insecure disorganized.

8. Designate two different treatment strategies, once attachment style has been ascertained, based on your clients’ attachment style.

9. Demonstrate strategies to help clients build skills to be prepared to process trauma via EMDR, including safety within the therapeutic alliance and skills for self-regulation.

10. Determine when/if your client is prepared to safely process trauma memories via EMDR.

11. Create and employ client-driven imagery for safety and containment during trauma processing.

12. Utilize clinical techniques to help with grounding and centering traumatized clients in-session.

13. Prepare clients with various trauma tools; mindfulness, guided imagery and meridian-based techniques to decrease client’s arousal levels and modulate affect.

14. Analyze and critique the original eight phases of EMDR’s standard protocol (Shapiro) as it relates to clinical treatment.

15. Determine Parnell’s four essential elements of each EMDR session and how it relates to client treatment.

16. Practice under supervision Parnell’s Modified EMDR protocol to prepare for work with your clients in-session.

17. Practice under supervision the skill for resourcing a client with imaginal resources prior to processing traumatic material.

18. Practice under supervision the trauma processing modality and EDMR tools for processing traumatic memories with your clients.

19. Utilize and practice two “cues for safety” with your clients based on Steve Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.

Continuing Education Credits – all 3 days

Addiction Counselors: This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 19.0 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

Counselors: This intermediate activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Counselors: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity consists of 1140 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Marriage & Family Therapists: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute

(MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

EMDRIA: This training is not affiliated with EMDRIA and does not qualify towards EMDRIA credits or training.

Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Nurse Specialists: PESI, Inc. is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

  • Nurses in full attendance will earn 19.0 contact hours. Partial contact hours will be awarded for partial attendance.

Psychologists: This live activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline and the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity. Contact us for more information on your state board or organization specific filing requirements. American Psychological Association credits are not available.

Montana Psychologists: This live activity is designed to meet the criteria requirements of the Montana Board of Psychologists and is a PESI-approved continuing education and qualifies for 1140 instructional minutes. Please save the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity.

Social Workers: PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 – January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 19.0 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Montana Social Workers: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Other Professions: This activity qualifies for 1140 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

Speaker Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP was trained on the use of EMDR as a treatment protocol through EMDRIA and uses EMDR in her practice to achieve improved outcomes with a broad spectrum of clients in the areas of trauma, abuse, and substance abuse.

She is certified as a Clinical Trauma Professional through the International Association of Trauma Professionals and currently owns and operates one of the largest treatment centers for substance abuse and trauma in the state of Idaho.

She has been invited to train internationally at the International Society of Addiction Medicine in India and at the International Conference on Addiction Research and Therapy in Amsterdam.

Ms. Howard earned her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University and is a member of EMDRIA and the International Society of Addiction Medicine..

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Megan Howard is the owner of Addiction and Trauma Recovery Services. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Megan Howard has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

YBGR Economic Impact Report

Recently, YBGR, through a generous grant from NorthWestern Energy, YBGR partnered with Circle Analytics to complete an Economic Impact Report. Through this partnership, we did a “deep-dive” into the benefits of YBGR: what we not only do for kids and families, but also how much of a difference we make economically to our stakeholders (you). 

Circle Analytics  prepared hundreds of these reports for state agencies, cities, counties, economic development districts, as well as private and nonprofit entities across the country.   Social impacts recognize the greater extended value of the program to society – dollars expended vs. dollars saved.

Circle Analytics found that for every dollar spent at YBGR, there is a return of $13.90 through long-term savings to society, jobs, capital investment and indirect business taxes.  

Full Report

Yellowstone Public Radio-Youth Advocates Team Up On Pilot Program

Youth Advocates Team Up On Pilot Program


Young man works on homework

Three youth advocacy groups in Yellowstone County are pooling their resources.

Tumbleweed, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Yellowstone County, and the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch are in the first few months of a pilot program.

They’re helping connect children with adults best suited to their needs. Ideally, the adult will help guide the child over an extended period of time, or however long is necessary.

Erika Willis is the executive director of Tumbleweed, a non-profit that helps homeless or otherwise at-risk youth. She said one goal is to provide kids with someone they feel comfortable turning to.

“Because they’ve developed that relationship, and they start to know my tummy feels weird or I had a weird day, and I know I can talk to someone about this and take the pressure off,” said Willis.

Willis said, in a situation like that, the child could come to an adult to get to the root problem early, instead of adults having to step in when they notice poor grades or missed classes.

“That’s another example of let’s get in front of this before it blows up,” she said.

One central goal is to help the three organizations combine resources and manpower. Brian Dennis is President of the Boys and Girls Club of Yellowstone County.

“This is the three of us putting everybody in the room together to try and figure out how we best utilize each other’s skillset,” said Dennis.

At this point, the three non-profits are working with the Boys and Girls Clubs students at the Lockwood Schools campus with funds from the Montana Healthcare Foundation.

SMART Training

Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART):

Starting at a young age, children learn to process their world through their senses.  They learn to regulate their emotions not only through their senses but their relationships and connections to those around them, most importantly their caregiver.  At YBGR we utilize a variety of evidenced-based treatment approaches for children that focus on changing their negative thought patterns, emotions and behaviors.  As an agency working towards more trauma-informed care practices, we recognize the need to meet the children and families where they are at.  Through the Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART), we now have the opportunity to truly meet children and their families where they are at in their treatment.  SMART was designed using a variety of treatment and therapy expertise including: trauma-focused psychotherapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, sensory integration, play therapy, attachment and family therapy, developmental psychology and human development.  Clinicians using SMART work with the child (and hopefully the caregiver) to nurture healing and growth.  This model offers flexibility to be implemented as individual therapy, caregiver-child therapy or parent psychoeducation/coaching. 

This modality can be used to treat somatic problems, emotional dysregulation, posttraumatic stress disorder, behavioral disorders, mood and anxiety disorders that are based in a history of trauma.  Through a very generous donation, YBGR was able to have Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D. and Heather Finn, LICSW from SMARTmoves ( come and train our staff over the course of three days.  YBGR was able to train not only the clinicians throughout our organization in the SMART model, but also have some non-clinical staff (school-based behavior specialists, care coordinators, program managers, and mental health workers) trained on how they can help support the therapists in their work with the clients and families.  In an effort to further collaborate with outside providers, five Billings Clinic Staff (4 therapists and 1 psychiatrist) joined the training as well. 

During the first two days of training, clinicians spent much of their time learning the philosophy and application behind the model as well as learning about the equipment.  Best of all, they got to test all of the equipment to see what it did and various ways to incorporate it into their work with children and families.  At YBGR we work with many clients who have experienced multiple traumatic events, often severe and pervasive in nature.  Through this unique model clinicians learned just how to  work with the children in a specially designed room to help facilitate emotional and behavioral regulation.  The room is exclusively designed for this purpose, children can playfully use big pillows, weighted blankets, balance beams, and other equipment that allows for full engagement of their brain and body.  There has been research to show the generational impact of trauma; meaning that parents who experience trauma will inevitability pass down the trauma to their children.  Countless studies exist and research regarding the Adverse Childhood Experiences and the generational impact.  For the caregivers who are involved in the treatment of their child, the strategies taught to their child often are useful for them personally as well.  Clinicians can also meet privately with the caregiver to offer some guidance to help coach their child. 

It’s YBGR’s effort to help not only the child but the whole family to help continue the growth within the family and ultimately within the community.